Month – September 2011

New York Clerk Refuses To Do Her Job – Marry Gay Couples

By Claire Gordon, AOL Jobs

When New York became the latest state to allow same-sex marriage this summer, thousands rejoiced and thousands did not. But a few town clerks were suddenly faced with an inescapable moral and legal dilemma: They were opposed to gay marriage, but their job now required that they authorize them.

This was the predicament facing Rose Marie Belforti in Ledyard, a small town southwest of Auburn. She is the town clerk, one of six elected officials in the local government. She’s a religious Christian, and if you call up her dairy farm, the Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery on Black Rock Road, her voice mail tells you “to have a blessed day.”

Last month, Belforti sent a letter to the town board, explaining that she would not be signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. She suggested that those jobs be assigned to a deputy. There is no deputy clerk in Ledyand, but it probably didn’t seem so urgent. Fewer than 10 couples a year on average come in to be married.

Then on Aug. 30, a lesbian couple from Florida with a home in the county, Katie Carmichael and Deirdre DiBiaggio, walked into the office. Belforti allegedly told them that they would have to schedule an appointment, as there was no deputy present. It just so happened that Carmichael and DiBiaggio’s witness, Arthur Bellinzoni, was on the board of the progressive advocacy group, People for the American Way Foundation.

Suddenly, sleepy Ledyard, home of less than 500 families, became a news story like it never imagined. On Wednesday, the Facebook page of Belforti’s dairy farm had only one comment: “This cheese is great! My favorite is the bleu.” More recent comments have a different tone: “Boycotting this place. I can’t stand Homophobes.”

Threat Of Lawsuit

People for the American Way and the law firm Proskauer Rose are now co-representing the couple as they pressure Belforti to do her job — issue marriage licenses to couples who are eligible — or resign. After all, a clerk’s refusal to provide a license to an eligible applicant for any reason is a misdemeanor under New York state law, according to a July memo sent out by the state Department of Health.

“It’s not up to government officials to decide that if they don’t like the couple getting married they can make it more difficult for them,” said Drew Courtney, a spokesman for People for the American Way. “She has a job to do. That job is to administer the paperwork and licenses of marriages in accordance with the state laws that govern it.”

People for the American Way and Proskauer Rose sent a letter to Belforti and the town supervisor Mark Jordan before the board’s regular Monday noon meeting, explaining that if Belforti didn’t agree to issue same-sex licenses, or resign, then they might pursue legal action. The board was split, and Belforti told local media that she would be staying in her job.

Belforti is now administering no marriage licenses at all. Lenyard’s Deputy Supervisor Jim Frisch told The Advocate that this was a short-term attempt to live up to “the spirit of the law.” The couple’s co-council weren’t satisfied, and People for the American Way launched a petition demanding that Belforti authorize all marriage licenses or leave her post. They’re still considering a lawsuit. Change.org has launched in its own petition, asking that Belforti be fired. Frisch claims that the board has no power to force Belforti, an elected official, out of the job. She’ll be up for reelection in November.

Duty vs. Religious Beliefs

Some Christian groups, however, do not believe public officials should have to perform a duty that violates their personal religious beliefs.

“In this country we have a number of laws that allow for an accommodation for other Americans, an accommodation of their religious practices, like Title VII, or physical disability, like the Americans With Disabilities Act,” said Bruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst for Citizen Link, the public policy affiliate of Focus on the Family. “It seemed that out of this issue came a call to punish as opposed to accommodate.”

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical lobby which filed suit against the State Senate over the summer, after the same-sex marriage law was passed, claims that state law demands the accommodation of religious observances and practices. The group is connecting Belforti with legal support.

One parallel to this debate is the “conscience clauses” that first appeared in the American law books after Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. In some states, doctors and health care providers are allowed to refuse to perform or assist in abortions, hospitals can prohibit them on their premises, and pharmacists are allowed to refuse to provide emergency contraception. This kind of exception in civil law does not exist right now for gay marriages, although marriage equality legislation in Connecticut and New Hampshire explicitly mentions that clergy and religious organizations do not have to solemnize or celebrate same-sex unions.

“People for the American Way are dedicated to religious freedom,” said Courtney. “We’re not talking about religious belief. Her church can believe whatever her church wants. But when it comes to civil marriages, civil laws, if she doesn’t want to follow the laws on the books she can get another job.”

Even without appealing to particular religious protections, there’s a possibility that Belforti is within her legal rights. “There’s a question as to whether she’s breaking the law in New York,” said Hausknecht. “A state statute in New York allows individuals to delegate any duty to a deputy.” Before this option is considered, however, Ledyard would need to hire one.

Media Contact: Claire Gordon, AOL Jobs. Media Provided by GayWebSource.com – Gay Media and Press Network.

(This story is re-printed with permission from AOl Jobs.)

Gays Are “More Dangerous” Than Terrorists (According To One Law Maker)

The Human Rights Campaign reports, Just  last week, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern told a talk show host that homosexuality is a bigger threat to the United States than terrorism.

Sorry,  WHAT? That’s  right. Kern claimed that because young people learn that “homosexuality is normal and natural” and because they’re “bombarded” with it every day, it is “more dangerous” than terrorist attacks. It’s vile.

Tell Oklahoma’s governor and top legislators to immediately denounce Kern’s remarks without delay.

As if comparing gays and lesbians to terrorists wasn’t bad enough, in the same interview, Kern also blamed the AIDS crisis on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community – recycling the outdated, tired charge that gays are responsible for the epidemic, instead of calling for more support of programs to prevent new HIV infections.

Sadly, this story is all too familiar and Kern has been censured for unrelated but equally outlandish remarks before. Kern made anti-LGBT comments like these three years ago that were captured on tape. But in the three years since, we’ve learned all too well what words alone can do – especially from elected officials.

Worse, Kern couldn’t care less about keeping her vile views under wraps this time around. Instead, she’s written a book criticizing the efforts of people like you and me to confront right-wing hate like hers. She casts herself as a truth-teller, standing tall in the face of “angry homosexuals” who speak out time and again against her extremism.

We’ve called out Kern before for her hatred, but public statements that could potentially incite people to violence are completely over the line.  We can’t let this kind of hatred go unanswered.

Kern must be held responsible. Sign the letter to Oklahoma’s
leaders now: “Kern’s comparison of homosexuality to terrorism is as offensive as
it is dangerous. I call on you to immediately condemn her hate speech.”

Our  campaign for equality has traveled a long road. We’ve unfortunately circled back to Kern and her unique brand of hate once again, but with your help, this will be the last time we ever need to. Thank you for taking a minute to stand with us and speak out.

Keep it up,
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese President

Human Rights Campaign

HBO Presents the 3rd Annual Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival – Oct. 13 to 16, 2011

LIGHTS! CAMERA! COMMUNITY! / FLGLFF Announces Film Schedule

Featured Films Include Dramas, Comedies, Shorts and More


MIAMI – September 16, 2011 –Now in its third year as a stand-alone festival, the Ft. Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is unveiling a dynamic roster of 17 films for the 2011 season, announced Franc Castro, executive director of the festival.  New for this year will be a gala opening night reception and film followed by a VIP after party, plus an expanded schedule of more short films, documentaries and feature films that are by, about, and for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community and its allies.

“Everyone connected with the festival is truly excited about this year’s line-up,” Castro said.  “We’ve brought together an amazing and diverse mix of films that will appeal to the whole community.  These films will inspire, inform, entertain, and maybe even provoke, but in every case, the festival promises a wonderful time out at the movies for the entire community.”

All screenings will be held at The Manor complex, 2345 Wilton Drive, in Wilton Manors, with the exception of the Opening Night reception and screening, which will be held at Cinema Paradiso, 503 Southeast 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale.

Advance tickets are available now online and by phone.  Advance matinee ticket prices (films before 6 p.m.) are $7 for members, $9 for guests.  Matinee tickets increase to $8 for members, $10 for guests, at the on-site box office during the festival.  Evening screenings (films at 6 p.m. or after) are $9 for members, $11 for guests in advance; $10 for members, $12 for guests at the box office.  Opening night tickets, which include a pre-screening cocktail reception, are $15 for members, $20 for guests.  Tickets for Sunday’s special Double Feature are $5 each.

For tickets, membership information and a complete festival schedule, call 877-484-8499, or visit www.flglff.com.

HBOPresents the 3rd Annual Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival – Film Schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

OPENING FILM

“Dirty Girl”

Directed by Ave Sylvia

It’s 1987 and Danielle’s misbehavior gets her banished to Special-Ed, where she is paired with Clarke, a friendless, closet-case on a parenting project. Danielle is determined to find her real father and Clarke is desperate to escape being sent to military school by his homophobic dad. They hit the road and on their journey they discover each other, themselves and the ultimate value of
friendship.

6 p.m. Reception, 7:30 p.m. Screening, Cinema Paradiso

503 Southeast 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Friday, Oct. 14, 2011

“Shahada”

Directed by Burnhan Qurbani

This film is a Robert Altman-esque take on the lives of different Arab immigrants in Germany and how they handle their Islamic faith with Germans, each other, their demons and their way of life.

5:30 p.m.  The Manor | Ivy Cinema 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

“So Hard to Forget” (“Como Esquecer”)

Directed by Malu di Martino

After a painful breakup and burdened with unbearable melancholy and memories, Julia struggles in her new life. Suddenly, when hope seems out of sight, she meets Helena, a woman who is going through similar circumstances.

6 p.m. The Manor | Epic Theater  2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

“We Are The Night”

Directed by Dennis Gansel

Louise, the lesbian vampire leader, has been looking for love for centuries.  When Louise sees Lena as the love of her life, she transforms her into a vampire. Lena initially feels lost, but quickly joins the trio of women vampires. When they attack a group of
criminals, Police Officer Tom investigates and so begins the hunt for the vampire pack.

7:30 p.m.
The Manor | Ivy Cinema

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

“Going Down in La La Land”

Directed by Casper Andreas

This film is a candid, sexy and outrageously funny outlook on what an actor can and will do in order to survive in Hollywood. After a rocky start at a dead-end job, young, handsome and ambitious Adam accepts a position as a production assistant for a gay porn
company. Will Adam get trapped in this seedy underworld, or does he find a Hollywood movie with a happy ending?

8 p.m. The Manor | Epic Theater 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Saturday,Oct. 15, 2011

“The Green”

Directed by Steven Williford

Michael and his partner Daniel trade their New York City living for the Connecticut shoreline with hopes of  simpler life. Suddenly their new peaceful life is shaken when one of Michael’s high school students accuses him of “inappropriate conduct.”
2 p.m. The Manor | Epic Theater 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Tomboy”

Directed by Celine Sciama

10-year-old Laure moves to a new town where she convinces her new friends she is a boy named Michael. Michael grabs the attention of a particular girl named Lisa, who ends up falling in love with him. When the summer comes to an end, will Michael’s true identity be unwillingly revealed? 
2:30 p.m. The Manor | Ivy Cinema  2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Buffering”

Directed by Darren Flaxstone; Christian Martin

Seb and Aaron have maxed out their credit cards and the bills are stacking up. After losing his job, Aaron decides to sell their sex life online without telling Seb that they are being filmed. When Seb finds out, he quickly agrees to carry on until they’re back on their feet. For an ultimate payday, the couple agrees to bring in a third, but will they ultimately choose love over money and a hot
threesome?

4 p.m.
The Manor | Epic Theater 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Hit So Hard”

Directed by David Ebersole

Patty Schemel, the hard-hitting drummer of Courtney Love’s band “Hole,” always knew she was “different” but never dreamed she would one day be on the cover of Rolling Stone. She also never thought that she could lose it all. This film is an unflinching inside look at one of the ‘90s most crucial and controversial groups.

4:30 p.m. The Manor | Ivy Cinema

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

eCupid”

Directed by J.C. Calciano

Marshall is about to turn 30 and is in desperate need for a new life. He downloads an app called “eCupid” that guarantees true love, but immediately sabotages his seven-year relationship. Suddenly single, “eCupid” overwhelms Marshall with sexy guys and
quickly becomes out of hand. With the help of a wise and mysterious waitress, Marshall is given one more chance to determine who and what is really important in his life.

6 p.m.
The Manor |
Epic Theater

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton
Manors


“Kink
Crusaders”

Directed by Michael Skiff

As told by the founder of International Mr. Leather (IML) and past IML winners, this film tracks the 2008 IML leather contest held in Chicago.  The film weaves snippets of legend, shots of past IML weekends, clips of seminars, crowd shots and emotions from contestants and spectators as it fairly portrays participants and attendees as “normal” GLBT people simply enjoying life.

Co-Producer Dorjan Williams will be in attendance for Question & Answer directly after the film.

7 p.m.
The Manor | Ivy
Cinema

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton
Manors

“My Last Round” (“Mi Ultimo
Round”)

Directed by Julio Jorquera
Arriagada

Octavio is a struggling Chilean boxer working as a hairdresser to make ends meet. Hugo is a troubled young man searching for his true self. The couple fall in love and move to the capital city of Santiago with energized dreams of building a life together and protecting their love from a harsh world. This powerful film captures the passionate rise and tragic fall of a couple’s relationship.

8 p.m.

The Manor | Epic Theate 2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011

DOUBLE FEATURE

“The Grove”

Directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson

“The Grove” is a film about AIDS, love and the politics of remembrance. Thirty years after the first diagnosed cases of AIDS, how do we mark a time of unimaginable loss?


&
“Life @ the End”

Directed by Jennifer Molina and Farah Dosani

“Life @ the End” looks at life and the power of human connection through the eyes of people caring for their terminally-ill loved ones in South Florida.

3:30 p.m.

The Manor | Ivy
Cinema

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton
Manors

“Wish Me Away”

Directed by Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf

A portrait of award-winning country music star Chely Wright, this film follows Wright through her struggles as she discovers the transformational power of living an authentic life.
4 p.m. The Manor | Epic Theater

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

CLOSING WOMEN’S FILM

“The Night Watch”

Directed by Richard Laxton

As air raid sirens wail, the audience is transported to London in the 1940s where four young people find an invisible arena in which to explore their sexuality. Moving back in time through their lives, loves and losses, they must make peace with their pasts in order to move on to their futures.

5:30 p.m.

The Manor | Ivy
Cinema

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton
Manors

CLOSING NIGHT MEN’S FILM

“Christopher and HisKind”

Directed by Geoffrey Sax

This film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s critically acclaimed memoir gives a fascinating glimpse into the decadent and politically unstable world of 1930s Berlin. A young wide-eyed Christopher escapes repressive English society and arrives in Berlin
at a time when the cabaret scene is in full swing. Launched into the thriving gay subculture, Christopher embarks on a journey of self-discovery and love that is set against the vibrant backdrop of Berlin’s cabaret nightlife and the dark rise of Nazi politics.

6 p.m.

The Manor | Epic Theater

2345 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

“AGING IS PART OF LIFE; HIV DOESN’T HAVE TO BE”

Washington, DC – The AIDS Institute (TAI) is proud to announce that the 4th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) will take place on September 18th. The campaign theme is “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be”.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report published that persons aged 50 and older accounted for approximately: 17% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, 36% of persons living with AIDS, 24% of all AIDS diagnoses and 45% of all deaths of persons with AIDS. As a society we need to dispel myths and stereotypes and acknowledge that the older population might be engaging in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV infection, such as being sexually active and/or using drugs.

Since the beginning, NHAAAD has highlighted the complex issues related to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment for aging populations in the United States. The day consists of different educational, awareness and HIV testing activities or events programmed all around the nation to take place on or around September18th.

“NHAAAD is a comprehensive campaign. The AIDS Institute ensures that organizations and collaborators have all of the necessary tools and information to not only design Awareness day events or activities, but also be able to implement and evaluate them”, comments Marylin Merida, President of The AIDS Institute’s Board of Directors.

On September 15th, in recognition of the NHAAAD, three major health organizations expressed their continued commitment to advancing the care and treatment of older adults with HIV. The American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) and the America Geriatrics Society (AGS) have worked together to create the HIV & Aging Consensus Project. Key objectives include the assessment of how the presence of both HIV and common age-associated diseases alter the optimal treatment of HIV as well as treatment for co-morbidities. A report titled The HIV and Aging Consensus Project: Recommended Treatment Strategies for Clinicians Managing Older Patients with HIV is slated to be released in early October. The report will be used to guide HIV practitioners and other medical professionals who treat older patients with HIV disease on best practices for diagnosing, treating, and referring older adults with HIV.

“It is exciting to see collaborations like ACRIA, AAHIVM and AGS come together and recognize the importance of developing guidelines in treating older adults with HIV. With older adults living with the disease longer and individuals getting infected over the age of 50, we know there are many other age-associated factors in which to consider. We are happy to see that NHAAAD has helped enhance the issue of addressing the medical aspect of older adults and HIV”, states Michael Ruppal, Executive Director at The AIDS Institute.

To download NHAAAD campaign materials to assist in event planning, please visit www.NHAAAD.org.

 

The AIDS Institute invites organizations and community members who plan, implement and participate in awareness activities or events on or around September18, 2011, register their events at 2011 NHAAAD Event Registration.

# # #

——————————————————————————–

The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.

For more information and to become involved, please contact
The AIDS Institute at: (202) 835-8373, or by email at: Info@theaidsinstitute.org or www.TheAIDSInstitute.org

Media provided by the GayWebSource.com –  Gay Media and Press Network.

Tampa Bay Red Ribbon Run Thursday evening December 1st.

 www.TampaBayRedRibbonRun.org

 

We are proud to share with you Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner’s letter of support for this year’s Tampa Bay Red Ribbon Run.

Please join Kevin and hundreds our our community friends by participating in this life saving event.

Thank you,

Michael Ruppal, Executive Director

The AIDS Institute

Lorraine Langlois, Executive Director

Metro Wellness and Community Centers

 

Dear Friends,

It is my great honor to support the Tampa Bay Red Ribbon Run!

This year’s event will be held in Tampa, Florida’s Lowry Park Zoo on World AIDS Day, Thursday evening  December 1st. Tampa, Florida is the home office location for both The AIDS Institute and the Metro Wellness and Community Centers.

It is important to note that Florida alone has 40% of the entire nation’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list patients. These
waiting lists mean that even though life-saving medications area available, the ill and poor are denied their medications due to the lack of money by our states’ safety-net programs. Of the nearly 10,000 people throughout America on this waiting list, more than 4,000 reside in Florida. This event helps us put a spotlight on this critically important problem and helps us fund solutions to save our friends’ and neighbors’ lives!

Join me in supporting this vitally important event by being a:

More information, including our contact information, is located at www.TampaBayRedRibbonRun.org.

My sincere thanks for your generous support!

Kevin Beckner

Hillsborough County Commissioner

 

 

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